JC. Penney Co., the third largest U.S. department store chain, said it will open fewer new stores this year than originally planned and it will increase its efforts to attract frugal shoppers away from rivals by revising its marketing pitch and adding new brands.
Penney officials told analysts at its annual investors' meeting on Wednesday in New York that it's plan is to balance the current economic environment with the company's long-term vision.
The Plano, Tex.-based department store chain plans to open 36 new stores this year, compared with 50 from last year. This will save the company $200 million in capital spending this year, Chief Executive Mike Ullman said.
We don't feel that we have enough visibility for it to be meaningful,'' Ullman said.
The company said it will expand and add men's and teen lines to attract shoppers with a limited budget. Revenue fell in 2007 for the first time in five years, and March sales at stores open at least a year dropped 12 percent, the worst in at least 15 years.
I've been in the business 39 years, and I don't think I've ever seen an environment that was as unpredictable as the current environment,'' Ullman said. The outlook through 2009 is ``very difficult.''
In February, J.C. Penney said profit for the year ending in January 2009 would be $3.75 to $4 a share.
J.C. Penney shares fell $1.34, or 3.4 percent, to close at $38.19 Wednesday. They have traded in a 52-week range of $33.27 to $83.64.